Why I write this blog

Years ago when I started this blog, a colleague asked me why I was writing it. She didn’t understand and for some reason, I felt embarrassed explaining. She kept asking, “But why?” and I kept giving reasons that were like bland, mushy oatmeal: “I like writing”, “It’s just a thing I want to try.” It never occurred to me to say, “Why not write a blog?”

I now have answers to both questions. 

Why do I write this blog? 

  1. I am in awe of my job as a principal, and I want a record of it. 
  2. I write myself out of my worst disappointments. 
  3. I am happiest when I am creating something.
  4. It brings my students to life. 
  5. I want more truth to be available about myself than untruth. 

And, over the past two years, I haven’t written much. There is a student in my school named Akeem.* He’s from a country that experienced war, and as a result, he didn’t attend school for the past several years. It’s hard for him to sit in a seat for long periods of time. He goes to the water fountain 12 times a day, and each time, takes a long, long walk back to class. When he tackles his classwork, he shows promise and his teachers have been surprised by his abilities. He has a charming smile and is easy to like. He is incredibly skilled at hiding. 

In many ways, I’ve been like Akeem with this blog. I’ve found other things to do, and also got skilled at hiding. So why have I not written much in the past 2 years? 

  1. I told myself the blog is just me bragging. 
  2. I told myself it doesn’t matter. 
  3. Soon after the pandemic began, I got stuck. I was running a remote school and figuring things out at 100 miles per hour, taking leaps. I thought, “This is history, I should be recording it,” and I had no idea where to start. 
  4. Time just passed, and I kept finding other things to do. 

What got me back to writing: I told a fellow writer that I was stuck, and she challenged me to write five blog drafts in one week. She said, “I share what I have to share because I know it makes a difference for people. Some people like it, some people don’t, and I’m fine with both.” The challenge worked for me and once I completed it, she told me to write five more. 

That’s literally it. So now I’m writing. 

Akeem has also made progress, although we still haven’t quite found that spark to support him fully. But I know we will and more than ever, I understand why it’s tough for him to begin each time. I’m grateful for the experience of being stuck and eventually unstuck, because compassion is a good starting place. 

*The names and identifying features of students have been changed.

Photo credit, Jason Clor, Creative Commons License.

10 thoughts on “Why I write this blog

  1. I’ve long resisted social media, Julie, but saw that I’m missing a lot ! I’ve heard about your blog and started reading it. Good for you to push through and just write those five entries- and keep going! It’s inspiring to me ! I just did some things today that I’ve been putting off – and feel more theee-dimensional again!


      • You’re an inspiration, Julie! Many of my coworkers at Parks have struggled to master English as their second or third language. Some came here as teenagers, but there were scant resources to help them in the schools at that time, and some still struggle to speak and read English clearly. How is a young man of 17, fluent in Cantonese and Vietnamese but probably dyslexic, supposed to pass US high-school math? Or, thirty years later, a Civil Service exam? Your school, and your leadership in creating and developing it, provide a wealth of resources and support for lifelong learning, and an important model for other education professionals to emulate . All best wishes as you begin the new school year!


      • Thank you so much for adding this context! Yes, I’m so glad that now in 2022, there are probably about 30 schools like mine in NYC, whereas 20 or 30 years ago, most English Language Learners were in regular schools which may not have had all the resources needed to address their needs. Thank you again!


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